Family Law Matters


Family Law Matters

If you have made the decision to obtain a divorce or legal separation, it is important that you protect your rights while settling matters related to the separation. One of the ways you can ensure that your rights are being upheld is by contacting a family lawyer that can provide you with legal advice.

We are able to look out for the best interests of you and your family throughout the divorce process in matters that involve:

DivorcePre-Divorce Issues
It may not be time to file for divorce but you want to know your options and have an understanding of the process and the law in Alberta regarding separation/divorce. We consult with clients pre-divorce to provide advice about the process, the available options, and the particular circumstances of your case and provide information on what you should and should not do.

The breakdown of marriage is the sole grounds for divorce. This can be established in one of three ways: spouses living separate and apart for at least one year; adultery of the other spouse and/or mental or physical cruelty of the other spouse. You can be separated and still live under the same roof. Contact us for more information. If you and your spouse are in agreement on the terms of the divorce, we can also obtain a Joint Divorce for you and your spouse. This is relatively a quick and cost effective divorce proceeding. We offer a flat rate billing for uncontested divorce.

DivorceMarriage Annulment
An annulment is a declaration by the court that two spouses were never legally married and allows some spouses to end a marriage without divorce. A marriage may be annulled when one spouse was already married to someone else, one spouse was under the age of majority and married without parental permission, the marriage was entered into under duress, fear, or fraud, one spouse lacked the mental capacity to understand the basic meaning of marriage, one or both spouses was intoxicated during the marriage ceremony and was not able to give consent and/or the spouses were too closely related to each other by blood or adoption. Legal advice will be necessary to determine whether your marriage meets these or other grounds for annulment.

DivorceLegal Separation
A legal separation occurs when a married couple signs an agreement to live separately for the rest of their lives. The agreement can include terms regarding spousal support, custody, access, child support, and asset/debt division. If, in the future, you decide to formally divorce, the separation agreement will be included in the divorce judgment, except you agree otherwise.

Common LawCommon Law Rights
If you are living in a common-law relationship, you will have a number of rights and obligations arising under family law. Different rules apply to married and common law spouses. There are some rights that common-law spouses share with married spouses, including child support, spousal support, and rights to CPP pension credits. If you need additional information about how living with someone can affect your legal rights, a lawyer can give you advice based on your individual situation.

Property and Debt DivisionProperty and Debt Division
Every divorce must address the division of property and debt that the two parties share. This property consists of everything acquired during a marriage. Some property are exempt from distribution; property acquired before the marriage, gifts, given to only one of the spouses, from a third party, inheritances, given to only one of the spouses, money received as a result of a personal injury claim and/or proceeds of a life insurance policy. There are cases when the foregoing property are divisible. If you are filing for divorce and have yet to understand what your rights may be in regards to your property, you need to call our firm.

Child SupportChild Custody And Access 
Any dispute that involves the parental custody of a child will have a judge asking only one question: what is in the child’s best interests? Working with this ‘best interests of the child’ standard, we advise and represent clients in negotiating, mediating and litigating child custody issues. It is our aim to provide clients with the knowledge and strategies that can best serve their children.

Child SupportChild Support
Following a divorce, child support is calculated by way of the Federal Child Support Guidelines. However, it is possible to deviate from these guidelines in certain circumstances, such as when one parent cannot work, is unemployed, when the child has special needs that may prove costly or in split custody cases.

Spousal SupportSpousal/Partner Support
Spousal support, or alimony as it is also called, is money paid from one ex-spouse to the other during or after a divorce or separation. The amount of spousal support that the dependent party receives is based on a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, the age of both parties, and the financial situation/earning capacity of both parties.

Cohabitation AgreementPostnuptial/Cohabitation/Marriage Agreements
If you are seeking to protect your assets in the case of divorce, then you may benefit from a postnuptial agreement. This is a contract entered into after marriage or cohabitation, which can ensure that your assets are divided on your terms in the case of a divorce.

Prenupitual AgreementPrenuptial Agreements
Prenuptial agreements are used to protect married individuals from having their assets taken by their spouses in the event of a divorce. These agreements list, in detail, the exact assets brought into the marriage by each party, and what will remain in their possession following divorce proceedings.

MediationLawyer-Assisted Mediation
This is a form of separation/divorce in which the two parties decide to resolve issues without going through the courts. It involves a neutral third party (the mediator) helping you reach a self-determined and reasonable agreement regarding the separation in the presence of your lawyers. This process is frequently less expensive than litigation, less adversary, faster and you can settle your divorce on your own terms and with legal advice all the way.

Emergency Protection OrderDomestic Violence
Domestic violence is a serious matter requiring urgent attention and action. In some cases, divorce does successfully end the violence, but this does not always occur. If you are the victim of domestic violence, or if you are being wrongly accused of committing such violence, it is crucial that you contact a lawyer who can take legal action on your behalf in an attempt to resolve the situation.

Emergency Protection OrderEmergency Protection Order
Orders of Protection are issued by a court in order to protect one from violence, harassment, or abuse. These orders only apply to partners and former partners including same-sex partners. The restraining order can include conditions forbidding the spouse from attending at the applicant spouse’s place of work, the family home and the children’s school. It is helpful to have legal assistance for a review hearing of an emergency protection order or an application for a Queen’s Bench Protection Order.

When one parent decides to relocate, it can have a profound effect on the child custody and access arrangement shared with the other parent. The Supreme Court of Canada has recently determined that a custodial parent cannot automatically move a child anywhere without the other parent’s consent. The decision to allow a child to be moved must be made in the best interests of the child. In most cases, a modification to parental agreements will need to be obtained when a parent decides to move away from where both parties live.

Grandparents RightsGrandparents’ Rights
If grandparents are not permitted access to their grandchildren, they may make an application to the Court for access or visitation rights. From the court’s standpoint, the most important issue is the best interests of the child. In determining the best interests of a child, courts will consider all circumstances including the love, affection, and emotional ties between the child and the grandparents, views and preferences of the child, ability and willingness of the grandparents to provide the child with guidance and education, and the relationship by blood or through an adoption order between the child and the grandparents.

To adopt a child, you usually must live in the same Province as the child and you must usually be at least 18 or 19 years old. You do not have to be married but, if you are, your spouse must also agree in writing that he or she wants to adopt a child. A husband and wife can make a joint application if either is over 18 years of age or if the child they wish to adopt is the biological child of either of them. These adoptions are critically important to all involved. We understand this importance and the sensitive nature of the process. We have seen what can happen when the requirements of the law are not adhered to strictly. We are prepared to assist clients in a respectful and prudent manner to navigate the legal and social waters to a successful adoption.

The guardian of a child is the adult who is legally responsible to take care of the child. Usually, the guardian is the parent. Sometimes a parent runs into difficulty caring for their child alone. Another adult may become a guardian of the child to support or replace the parent. To become a guardian, that person must apply to the court for a private guardianship order. To apply for guardianship, either you or the child must live in Alberta and you must have cared for the child for more than 6 months. The judge may drop these requirements if it is in the child’s best interests to do so. Please contact our firm for assistance, guidance, or clarification about the law surrounding guardianship.

DivorcePost-Divorce Matters
After a divorce is final, lives and situations change. Agreements that worked at the time often need to be changed. Courts review requests to modify or vary divorce judgments based on significant changes in circumstances such as changes in income or relocation needs. We work with you to understand the changes that have occurred and then seek arrangements that better fit your needs and goals.